National Student Survey

In the UK, feedback is gathered nationally from final year students by the ‘National Student Survey’, introduced in 2005, and implemented between January and March each year. With student fees tripled some time ago in England (in Scotland, University education is free to home students, and in Wales and Northern Ireland students pay far less than in England!), the student voice as gathered by the NSS is even more important.

In my view, the actual survey is quite badly designed, but the results are taken very seriously, and turned into league tables both within institutions and nationally. And all feedback on the student experience in higher education is useful, even when the survey instrument is far from perfect.

At many of my workshops, I address head-on how we may go about increasing student satisfaction in the context of particular aspects covered by the Survey, in particular those relating to feedback and assessment – far and away the least satisfactory aspects of the student experience in the sector as determined by the Survey.

‘Making Teaching Work’, which I published with Ruth Pickford in 2007, included a chapter on ‘Addressing Student Satisfaction’, linking to the National Student Survey statements. We have made this available to all, and am therefore putting an adapted version of the chapter on this page as a download, so that colleagues across the sector may I trust gain some useful ideas which will help not only to improve the student experience, but to improve how students express their views about that experience.

I have further developed the discussion of several aspects relating to this Survey in the 3rd edition of ‘Making Learning Happen’ published by Sage in May 2014.

Meanwhile, here is the adapted 2007 chapter from Ruth and myself.   Any feedback on this really welcome.  NSS-guide-2016-1.docx (116 downloads)